WHAT are you thinking of, Frank?’ Mrs. Hardy asked her husband one evening, after an unusually long silence on his part. ‘Well, my dear, I was thinking of a good many things. In the first place, I think, I began with wondering what I should make of the boys; and that led to such a train of thoughts about ourselves and our circumstances, that I hardly knew where I was when you spoke to me.’ Mr. Hardy spoke cheerfully, but his wife saw at once that it was with an effort that he did so. She put down the work upon which she was engaged, and moved her chair nearer to his by the fire. ‘It is a serious question, Frank, about the boys. Charley is fifteen now, and Hubert fourteen. I wonder myself sometimes what we shall do with them.’ ‘There seems no opening here in England for young fellows. The professions are crowded, even if they were not altogether beyond our means; and as to a clerkship, they had better have a trade, and stick to it: they would be far happier, and nearly as well paid.
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